Donald Trump's attorney general William Barr thought Trump might have refused to leave office had the Department of Justice not immediately investigated and disproved the then president's lies about electoral fraud in his defeat by Joe Biden.
Barr said he was not sure if we had a transition at all, but he said, in startling video testimony played by the January 6 committee during a hearing on Thursday.
The hearing, the fifth in a series to extend into July, was set to focus on Trump's attempts to pressure the justice department to overturn the election result, which culminated in the attack on the US Capitol on January 6th, 2021.
The Wyoming anti-Trump Republican congresswoman Liz Cheney, the deputy chair of the January 6 committee, introduced Barr's remarks.
She said millions of Americans have seen the testimony of Attorney General Barr before this committee. He was asked by the former attorney general at one point in his deposition why he authorised the Department of Justice to investigate fraud in the 2020 election. Barr, Cheney said, was asked why not follow the normal course of action and let the investigations occur much later in time, after 6 January the day the electoral college results were certified at the Capitol.
Barr said that the responsible thing to do was to have a view as to whether or not there was fraud. Frankly, the fact that I put myself into the position that I could say that we had looked at this and didn't think there was fraud was really important to moving things forward.
I shudder to think what the situation would have been if the position of the department was. We are not looking at this until after Biden is in office. I am not sure if we had a transition at all. Barr rejected Trump's claim of widespread electoral fraud and stepped down on 14 December 2020.
Jeffrey Rosen replaced him as acting attorney general. On Thursday, he testified with his deputy, Richard Donoghue, and Steven Engel, who headed the DoJ Office of Legal Counsel.
Barr previously described Donald Trump's claims about electoral fraud as a bullshit. He previously said he would still vote for Trump if Trump ran for the White House again.